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Three Actors Create Portrait of Race in America

(Posted January 10, 2011)

Performers Allan Axibal, left, Rafael Agustin, center, and Miles Gregley, right, wrote and conceived the production "N*W*C" to be staged at 7:30 p.m., Jan 17 in Rosenberger Auditorium.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Telling stories and acting them out in funny, provocative, and sometimes controversial vignettes, three actors from different ethnic backgrounds will use comedy, slam poetry, hip-hop and drama to denote the state of race in America in a performance at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 17, in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts on the Juniata campus.

The performance is in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

For tickets and information about the Juniata College Presents series, please call (814) 641-JTIX (5849). General admission tickets for single performances are $20, except where otherwise noted. Single-show tickets for seniors over age 65 and children age 18 and under are $12. Juniata College students are admitted free with a student ID.

The show uses three derogatory ethnic slurs in its title and does not skirt the issue of race and the taboos of using hurtful racial slurs in a public or artistic setting. Called "N*W*C" in a shorthand version of the title, the play examines themes and issues connected to racism such as ethnic identity, racial slander, stereotyping, immigration and representation in media and popular culture.

In addition, performers from the cast will run a workshop and an open forum the afternoon before the performance addressing subjects relating to the show, including the use of racial slurs, personal identity and the concept of race. The open forum on race and ethnicity will be at 3:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 17 in Sill Board Room in the von Liebig Center for Science. Admission is free and open to the public.

"The show saps these slurs of their perjorative power. They further shape these epithets into strands of rhythm and dropped bombs of punctuation. The result is an improbably infectious hip-hop beat."
Los Angeles Times

The production has been performed at college campuses and theatres across the country. The three actors who have written and performed the show, all drew on their own life experiences to create the show. Rafael Agustin, a Latino actor, performs with Miles Gregley, an African-American actor, and Allan Axibal, a Filipino actor. The three conceived and wrote the show and started performing it in 2005. Daisuke Tsuji, also performs the show in recent years.

The original trio, all former debate team champions, met at a California community college and later attended UCLA together. The play originated when Agustin was repeatedly turned down for theatre roles in plays by Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams staged by the UCLA School of Theatre. He recruited his former debate teammates Gregley, who was performing stand-up comedy, and Axibal, a slam poet.

"The show saps these slurs of their perjorative power," wrote a critic in the Los Angeles Times. "They further shape these epithets into strands of rhythm and dropped bombs of punctuation. The result is an improbably infectious hip-hop beat."

Rafael Agustin earned bachelor's and master's degrees from UCLA and has appeared in productions such as "Short Eyes," "Quills," and "Roosters." He also wrote and directed the play "The Last American Bar."

Miles Ellington Gregley performs in the hip-hop group The Elevators and has performed stand-up comedy at clubs such as the Icehouse, the Improv and the Laugh Factory. He earned a bachelor's degree from UCLA.

Allan Axibal was a national champion in speech competition. He is currently completing a master's degree in communication from UCLA.
Daisuke Tsuji has toured as a performer with Cirque du Soliel and has worked as part of The Actors Gang. He graduated from UCLA as well.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.